GRAVETTE (KFSM) - Voters rejected a plan to increase property taxes Tuesday night (Sep. 17) that would have gone towards a new elementary school in Gravette.
School superintendent Richard Page said he heard citizens' concerns loud and clear, and said the district is now going back to the drawing board to figure out what is next for the school.
"I don't think we just turn right around and do it again, I mean it's definitely got some discussions that need to be taken place," Page said.
The proposed millage failed with 87% of the voters against and 13% for the tax increase. The millage would have increased property taxes by $70 on a $100,000 home.
"I think it is a resounding message to our district about what we need to do," Page said.
He said an increase in taxes would be the only way to pay for the project, which would include adding five classrooms to the high school and a science lab. The estimated cost of upgrades to the current high school came in right under $2 million, while the cost for the new elementary school came in at almost $13 million.
Gravette resident Tina Crose said the $14 million improvements are not necessary at this time.
"The numbers on the school website itself does not prove that we have the amount of children necessary to warrant a tax increase," Crose said.
She said there is no number that the district could offer that would make the property tax increase worth it. She said she and a group of citizens have been working since January to inform the public about what the millage would have meant to locals financially.
"I think that with the votes yesterday our voice was heard, and now it's shown that this is what we believe in," Crose said.
Local property owner Berl Harris said he was against the millage because he owns multiple properties in the area, and he feared the amount of taxes he would have to pay. Harris said if the tax burden is lower, he may be willing to vote yes in the future.
"I'd take something else in reason, but right now that would be a no," Harris said.
The superintendent said there is no timeline for when a new plan may be proposed to the public. Page said the elementary schools are increasing by 1-2% every year, but right now the school can absorb the higher enrollment numbers. He said the district is trying to plan ahead for what the numbers may be in the future.